Establishing Agricultural Associations
As for this point, I wish to affirm that shall we leave farmers unorganized their bargaining power would be small. In fact, our Japanese friends advised us to set up cooperatives a while ago and I told the Japanese Ambassador that the word “cooperative” had misled people by what happened under the regime of Pol Pot. While some countries use this term “cooperative,” we will use the term “agricultural association.” Our association aims to produce together an item, for example rice seed, which can sell to other places. In another instance, association can help people strengthen their positions against price lowering of their produce by merchants. When they are together, they will be strong and will dictate the term of their exchange with merchants. Being in association, people with better resource could also provide credits to those who need them urgently so that they do not have to sell out their produce immediately (for example to repay their debts). The bargaining power of our farmers in that case is growing stronger. Some of our farmers are afraid to be in association because of what happened under Pol Pot. Association can also various other jobs such as water management, crops zoning, etc. Please make further efforts to explain it to our people.
Fertilizer Issue to Re-examine
… I have made it before anyone else my remark on agricultural fertilizer and pesticide. Some imported into certain area and use of it destroyed agriculture and environment. People purchase fertilizer with an aim to let their crop grow and give a good harvest. However, there were cases that using those fertilizer led to killing people’s crops, especially what happened in Banteay Meanjei. Merchants brought fake fertilizer and pesticide to sell to our people. Using of which would not only destroy people’s crops, but in long run, would also damage our land. Using of pesticide, which is not certified, would cause health problem for people but also depletion and changes in the mother nature that we would have no way to knowing it.
Don’t Cheat in Trade
… As for export, we must be careful with quality issue. Please do not compromise your ways. If items exported, people found things that were not up to standard, Cambodia would end up in their blacklist, and they would not let Cambodia’s products to reach their ports anymore. We must pay attention on this matter because in some places, we have noted that farmers would soak their rice in water (to let rice absorb water and its weight increases) before selling them to merchants the next day. It also happened in the case of those who trade chicken because they would stuff water and rice into their mouths hoping to gain weight when they sell them later. This is not a good practice. Either local or external trade, we must abide by a common norm. Do not cheat in trade.
Contagious Diseases among Animals
… This morning, I saw TV footage of animals dying in Ratanakiri. They were not dead for lack of water but from food. Please make efforts to take precautions and counter measures against contagious diseases. Time when they would die of lack of water has already gone. It seems this death caused by what they ate prior to drought […]
Measures to Protect Fish Species
… This is the point that I have the conference’s attention many years now. The level of water in Tonle Sap has gone down leading to shallowness of water in conservative reservoirs, where lived fish species, and now they have died in abundance. Recommendations to pump water elsewhere to the reservoirs are inapplicable. How about dig a big reservoir in the lake. It must be a huge one. If we do not take measure now, we would lose many species of fish. It seemed that we have encountered dead fish issue every year. Please look into this matter and figure out what to do before the other. I am appealing to our people to take part in protecting this zone and do not go into the reservoirs to catch fish. Leave them there until they grow bigger and it is time to fish. Let us do a good job on this issue.
Forestry and Fisheries Administrations – Sub-National Management
Firstly, in 2010 or 2011, if I am not wrong, from the Tonle Vaiko in Svay Rieng, I had proposed an amendment to law on forestry and fisheries to go along with law on land management. In the past, administrations to deal with forestry and fisheries were not under the supervision of sub-national authority. They were independent and paid no heed to no one’s suggestion. We are in the process of making one unified administration. Offices of agriculture in various provinces do not oversee forestry and fisheries issues, only agronomy, animal husbandry, etc. As of now, provincial offices of the Ministry of Agriculture will carry out works on forestry and fisheries too and will be part of the provincial administration. Otherwise, as happened already, when things go wrong, we could not get anyone to take up responsibility. I said it since 2011 and it is five years now. Let us have one unified administration. When there is thing to sort out, let us talk to provincial governors, who happen to be chief of unified commanding team.
Secondly, we have taken a step forward already. It is the initiative brought up by Minister of Environment Say Sam Al about distinguished functions of management between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. HE Sam Sam Al and HE Ouk Rabun had taken a step together in identifying economic land concession which formerly approved by each ministry. As we are working out new roles, we have given forests under protection that are under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Environment, and those land approved by Environment to the Ministry of Agriculture. I have approved with my signature for 18 areas already.
HE Say Sam Al has been working with international community and local organizations on this matter and I hope they will keep on doing that with recognition that forest and natural resource protection community is for same purpose. We have taken measures to protect our forest but we could foresee only some part of them. There are still actions of illegal loggings. Since 1998, there were no more logging allowed. However, illegal logging went on and we have now collected some 70,000 cubic meters. The authority alone would not be able to do this huge task. I am calling on everyone to take part in defending our forest. Communities working to protect forest and administrations in charge of forestry and natural resources must not consider each other enemy but collaborators for the protection of our natural resources.
New Jobs for Those Depending on Logging
We all are Cambodians and we are of the opinion and wish to protect forest and trees. From today onward, we must receive with open arms to those who love and truly protect forest. We also need to create new jobs for our people who previously depend on products they got from forest – tree sap, hunting, etc. We must seek to identify this problem and come up with a solution. We had the feeling that they wish to collaborate on this work. We would see that our partners wish to join with us in vocational training for them. We could foresee activities of handicrafts here and there would be tourist presence also. We would be joyful to see they could earn more than when they depended on forestry alone […]
Officials to Collaborate with People Arrest Illegal Loggers
… Forestry community people are not justice police but they can help justice police to do their work. With a large forest area to cover by a small number of forest rangers, it would be an insurmountable task to fulfill. In some cases, thieves and police would be acting hands in gloves too. People have more eyes and they hate people who log forest/trees, so they would be happy to collaborate. However, we must be faithful to them in return. If we do not pay attention to their reports and do not take effective and urgent measures, they would no longer report or collaborate with us.
This morning I had a meeting with new Police Minister of Vietnam and I requested him to close border for illegal logs trading across the border from Cambodia. I will meet with Vietnamese new Prime Minister in Sochi, Russia, next week and will bring this issue up with him. I will ask for his cooperation at the time that Cambodia is combating with forest crimes. I would also suggest that the Ministry takes extra care for people working in the protected forest areas – wages, uniforms, etc. People in community in the protected forest zones should enjoy our care as well. Give them raincoats or coats to protect them from harsh weather conditions of rain or coldness. They are there to help us protect the forest and we want to protect our forest too. We are no more enemies. We collaborate. As long as we do, bad people dare not do bad actions there.
… As for logging is concerned, I may recall about coalition government in 1990s where forest concession grew. As of 1998, we no longer allow logging. Now I ask for negotiation with companies to return them to us and if they do not, we will just take them back. This is the work to carry out by the Ministry of Agriculture, but I am asking for cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, mobilizing those companies to write letters to return forests to the Royal Government. They are forest concessions but no one is there. They do not even know where their forest starts or ends. The Royal Government will look into it further to see how much more forest can go into protection and management of the Ministry of Environment.
There are twelve more companies. Mobilize them to return them to us. Whoever volunteers, write to us or we also take them. I do not demand anything at all. I just ask the Ministries to follow their defined functions and roles stipulated in the sub-decree on organization and functioning of the Ministries/institutions. If you are the one to deal on forestry issue you must take action and do not wait only for Prime Minister’s recommendations. You may remember at times that I asked you not to wait for recommendation from Prime Minister. They should know their tasks and what to do. I hope that the two Ministers – agriculture and environment will present their achievements because they have the support of armed forces, and those of forest protection communities./.